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Shinjuku 新宿

Sunset over Shinjuku (© Wiennat M - Fotolia.com)
Sunset over Shinjuku

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Shinjuku was just a suburbian village during the Edo period. Nowadays it is one of the two main economic centers of Tokyo, along with the Nihombashi-Otemachi-Marunouchi area.

With the highest concentration of skyscrapers in Japan, Shinjuku has become the symbol of Japanese modernism. The Tokyo Metropolitan government moved its offices from Nihombashi to Shinjuku in 1991 to the eye-catching Tōkyō Tochōsha (東京都庁舎) buildings, known simply as the Tochō. Its central tower was the tallest in the capital (243m) until the completion of Tokyo Midtown in 2007.

Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower at night, Shinjuku Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building (Tochō), Nishi-Shinjuku Skyscrapers, Nishi-Shinjuku

An estimated 3.64 million passengers pass through Shinjuku Station each day, making it the busiest transportation hub in the world. Besides the Japan Railway (JR), Shinjuku Station accommodates five lines of the Tokyo Metro, two of the Toei Metro, the Odakyū Electric Railway, the Keiō Railway and Seibu Railway.

It is mostly Japanese companies that have elected Shinjuku for their head office. Among them are the printer manufacturer Seiko Epson, Nissin Foods (famous for instant ramen noodles), the food chain Yoshinoya, and the travel agency H.I.S. National giants Mitsui, Sumitomo, Nomura and KDDI each have their skyscrapers in Nishi-Shinjuku, although these are not their headquarters.

The latest high-rise building in date is the award-winning Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower (204m), completed in 2008. It is home to three educational institutions: Tokyo Mode Gakuen (fashion vocational school), HAL Tokyo (special technology and design college), and Shuto Ikō (medical college).

Skyscrapers, Nishi-Shinjuku
Skyscrapers, Nishi-Shinjuku


Shinjuku is a paradise for shoppers. It has more department stores than anywhere else in Japan. The most famous are Takashimaya-Times Square, Isetan, Mitsukoshi, Marui, My City and Odakyū.

Big electronics shops are only more numerous in Akihabara. But Shinjuku boasts the biggest of them, such as Yodobashi Camera and Bic Camera.

Music lovers will find their happiness at Tower Records. Note that the Shinjuku branch of HMV closed in January 2010.

Kabukichō 歌舞伎町

In north-east Shinjuku, beyond Yasukuni-dōri Avenue, is the famous red-light district called "Kabukichō". It is Shinjuku's entertainment district par excellence and one of the hottest places in Tokyo, with hostess bars, adult video shops, soap lands (massage parlours), strip bars and love hotels. Some Japanese will warn you that it can be dangerous, but you shouldn't be paranoiac about it, as Tokyo is still safer than most big Western cities.

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